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Madhubala and Maharani Gayatri Devi | Fashionable Indian Women Through History-strand-of-silk-stylish thoughts
Fashionable Indian Women Through History
22 nd Feb 2016

Audrey Hepburn, Jacqueline Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe had one thing in common, their great fashion sense. They are remembered even today for their distinctive styles.

Even in 2016 we cannot look at their pictures without falling in love with their striking outfits.

While these icons ruled the fashion world, some fashionable Indian women, were also acknowledged by the world renowned fashion magazines, for their exceptional style.

Today we have Sonam Kapoor and Deepika Padukone making a splash with their hot looks styled with precision. But long before these young divas, the impeccably dressed fashionable Indian women had made the world take notice. Let’s have a look at the most fashionable Indian women throughout history.

Maharani Gayatri Devi

Maharani Gayatri Devi | Fashionable Indian Women Through History

India was a land of royalty with various dynasties ruling every nook and corner. Apart from the entertainment industry the royal families of India have also given birth to fashionable Indian women who had a sense of style to awe the whole world. Maharani Gayatri Devi was once listed among the ten most beautiful women in the world in Vogue Magazine. Her iconic style included French chiffon sarees, a small bindi and a statement necklace along with her signature short hair.

Maharani Gayatri Devi (then and now) | Fashionable Indian Women Through History


Madhulbala is a timeless Indian beauty who ruled Indian cinema in the 1950s. Raised as Mumtaz, she created furore in Bollywood as Madhubala. Madhubala was known for her outstanding good looks and enchanting smile. Madhubala sported demure sarees and mid length dresses with aplomb. She became iconic for her role of Anarkali in the movie Mugha-e-Azam. Madhubala as well as her anarkali dress in the song ‘Pyar Kiya Toh Darna Kya..’ are remembered even today.

Madhubala | Fashionable Indian Women Through History

Madhubala is one of the most fashionable Indian women from Bollywood who is revered even today for her divine beauty. She is compared to her western counterpart Marilyn Monroe, who was famous in the West around the same time. Both were equally beautiful and displayed similar wavy short tresses and both faced an early tragic end to their highly glamorous lives.


Sadhana | Fashionable Indian Women Through History

The 1960’s actress, Sadhana Shivdasani was a trend setting fashion icon of Bollywood. Her fringe hairstyle is popular as the Sadhana cut in India. She was also the trendsetter for tight fitting churidar suits which she wore in the movie Waqt, 1965. At a time when fashion styling was not given much importance, she brought in freshness in hairstyle and attire, which was emulated by every young girl of the 60s and early 70s. Even today the eminent fashion designers of India take inspiration from her fitted suit look. Sadhana has made a remarkable contribution to the Indian fashion scene.

Sharmila Tagore

Sharmila Tagore | Fashionable Indian Women Through History

When we think of Bollywood fashion, Sharmila Tagore is definitely one of the fashionable Indian women who comes to mind first. With her distinct beehive hairstyles and winged eyeliners. She also famously wore a one-piece swimsuit in the movie,  An Evening in Paris at a time when the Indian society was not ready for such attires onscreen. In the movie, she displays lovely looks which is a blend of Indian and Paris inspired western looks. She was a bold trendsetter, who looks glamorous even today in her sophisticated sarees highlighted with beautiful jewellery.

Sharmila Tagore | Fashionable Indian Women Through History

Simi Garewal

Simi Garewal | Fashionable Indian Women Through History

Simi Garewal was not one of the most popular names in Bollywood but she made her mark in Bollywood through some memorable roles like the vamp in the movie Karz and her unique character in the movie Mera Naam Joker. She can be discerned as one of the most fashionable Indian women through history owing to her distinguished take on white attires. She always dresses up in classic white attires and is known as the Lady in White. The actress is an epitome of sophistication and she has the ability to give a touch of eternal class to her whites.

Simi Garewal (then and now) | Fashionable Indian Women Through History

Zeenat Aman

Zeenat Aman | Fashionable Indian Women Through History

When we are discussing fashionable Indian women through history, Zeenat Aman becomes an essential part of the list. She is a former beauty queen who introduced Bollywood to modern stylish silhouettes. The actress is memorable for some sensual roles essayed by her during her career span.

Zeenat Aman | Fashionable Indian Women Through History

Zeenat Aman’s hippie look from the movie Hare Rama Hare Krishna became a trend in the 70’s. It was the era of flared pants and Zeenat Aman totally rocked the look with her sense of style. She never aimed for the conservative look and brought sn oomph factor to most of the outfits that she wore.

Even today she displays an effortlessly chic sense of style at the few public appearances she makes. 


Rekha | Fashionable Indian Women Through History                         

Rekha is another actress in her sixties who has been named as a style icon by the famed fashion designer Sabyasachi for her consistent stunning looks in Kanjeevaram sarees. Her long flowing hair on one side and red lipstick are synonymous to glamour even today. She deserves a mention among the fashionable Indian women through history for her signature style.

Rekha Wearing Sarees | Fashionable Indian Women Through History

During her hay days Rekha has experimented with every look ranging from siren to simplistic. She has an evergreen style statement that has struck chord with the audience of all generations, from the 80’s to the 21st century.

Priyanka Gandhi

Priyanka Gandhi | Fashionable Indian Women Through History

Bollywood is not the only source of fashionable Indian women. Fashion makes a surprise presence in conservative fields like politics too.

While the west has witnessed many stylish politicians, in India most of the political figures stick to handloom sarees and a more simplistic traditional Indian look. The common Indian especially from rural areas will not relate to a high end fashionista. Even with these restrictions, Priyanka Gandhi has made a statement with her dressing style.

While campaigning she maintains the handloom cotton saree look. However she has been spotted in androgynous trousers sets, and chic, minimalistic attires while attending parliament. Priyanka Gandhi dares to shun the saree and experiment  in the stereotypical world of fashion in Indian politics which we think deserves some plaudits.

Priyanka Gandhi | Fashionable Indian Women Through History

Today fashion in India is at its peak and most of the social figures are basking in its glory. It is easier to nail the look nowadays with the help of celebrity stylists and the constant flow of content that keeps us up to date with the  latest fashion trends.

The fashionable Indian women of the 60’s and 70’s were the real trendsetters. During that era these fashionable Indian women were the sole source of glamour for the average Indian. Their great inherent sense of style was a boon for Indian fashion, which has come a long way since then.

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